Volume 94, Issue 42
Tuesday, November 14, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Disc of the Week
The Tea Party
Unlike most rock trios that get caught in the mundane guitar-bass-drums formula, The Tea Party exhibit ingenuity in their departure from the circularity of average rock with Tangents.
Although 11 of its 15 tracks are from previous albums, this latest release should not be mistaken for a "greatest hits" disc. Rather, it is a collection of songs from The Tea Party's discography, marking breakthrough points in the ongoing cultivation of their unique sound.
Added to the mix is the lead track, "Walking Wounded," one of four never-before-released tracks. In laying a clean and catchy beat, then weaving in live strings and the haunting vocals of a choir, this track is a perfect start to the album.
Most of what follows are The Tea Party's chart toppers; in this respect, it seems like Tangents is a greatest hits compilation or, at the very least, a survey of Tea Party favourites.
For example, what would a Tea Party collection be without "Sister Awake," which combines world music with rock music, blending together in a mesh of musical complexity over 30 instruments, including a timpani, west African shaker, a sitar and tambura.
Another not-soon-to-be-forgotten track on Tangents is "Temptation," which captures the driving intensity and raw aggression of modern alt-rock, although it began as a loop from a Lebanese funeral procession.
Along with the more popular tracks are the ones that were released and met with moderate success, including the electronic-infused "Babylon," the highly textured and symphonic "Psychopomp" and "The Messenger," in which vocalist Jeff Martin reaches new heights by uncharacteristically using the upper registers of his haunting voice.
The last track is The Tea Party's rendition of The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black," a cover only natural for a band that embraces the space where the familiar meets the enigmatic.
In a collection highlighting a band's ability to employ layers of fleshy instrumentation to create an ultimately organic sound, the only complaint is that Tangents is so rich it leaves the listener wanting more.
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